MUSKOGEE - In the end, a back-and-forth game between the Jay Bulldogs and Hilldale Hornets Friday night at the Hilldale Event Center became a war of attrition, a test of endurance after three quarters of furious, full-court action.
Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, it was the Hornets who had just enough left in the tank to pick up the win.
Tony Cabrera made one-of-two free throws with three seconds left as the Hornets escaped with the 53-52 victory.
The Bulldogs (4-4) held a 50-47 lead with six minutes in the game, but could only manage a single basket for the rest of the contest as the Hornets (6-3) steadily chipped away, getting to within one with 2:29 left. From there Hilldale would miss shots on four consecutive possessions before Cabrera made one-of-two free throws after being fouled on a drive to the hoop with 1:24 left to tie the score at 52.
That foul was a double blow to the Bulldogs, as it was the fifth on post player Stephen Tanner. Until that point, Tanner and Tyler Buzzard had dominated the smaller Hornets inside, accounting for a combined 26 points and 23 rebounds.
The Bulldogs had a chance to take the lead after a Hilldale turnover with 17 seconds left, but a pass into the post was stolen, leading to Cabrera charging to the basket on the end of a fast break and drawing the foul with seconds left.
Jay overcame a slow start, trailing 12-4 midway through the first quarter before rallying behind Jared Sloan, who scored six points in the period.
The Bulldogs would trail by as much as seven in the second quarter before the Hornets settled for a four point lead at halftime. Cabrera scored eight of his game-high 16 in the second to keep the Bulldogs at bay.
After tying the score on two separate occasions, the Bulldogs finally took the lead on Taylor Foster's three-point play with 1:20 left in the third quarter. The Hornets committed eight turnovers in the third quarter, enabling the Bulldogs to take a 46-42 into the final stanza.
Tanner finished with 15 points and six rebounds to lead Jay. Buzzard had 11 points and 17 rebounds, helping the Bulldogs to a 32-22 rebounding advantage. Foster had 12 and Sloan 11.
Bill Muse had 13 points for Hilldale, including a trio of threes, while Dillon Rowan scored 11.
Jay 63, Hilldale 33 (girls)
A barrage of three-pointers helped the Lady Bulldogs overcome a slow start to blow out the Lady Hornets 63-33 Friday.
Leading 19-15 with just under two minutes to play in the first half, Laura Whiteley hit from behind the arc on consecutive possessions to give the Lady Bulldogs (4-4) an 11-point lead at the break.
Jay continued to ride their hot streak in the third quarter, nailing threes on their first three possessions - two by Shalesah Myers - to extend their lead to 35-19. The Lady Hornets (3-5) never got closer than 14 the rest of the way.
Whitleley led the Lady Bulldogs with 14 points, while freshman Bailey Tanner - inserted into the starting lineup to replace injured point guard Megan Ritter - had 12 points and 10 rebounds. Fellow freshman Chloe Price had 10 points. Megan Edge had 13 points. Overall the Lady Bulldogs hit 10 three-pointers.
Cassady Mills led Hilldale with nine points. The Lady Hornets committed 29 turnovers on the night, including 14 in the first quarter.
Jay will finish out their pre-Christmas schedule with a game against Locust Grove on Tuesday.